Groups and Conflict Management: Reasons, Techniques and Solutions

Introduction

Many managers are contending with the issue of how to manage a workforce that is made up of different age sets and be able to make them realize the objectives of the organization. At the same time these achievement should be done in a peaceful and harmonious environment. If you are the manager to do all these tasks then it must not be easy at all. Today the work environment is composed of a multigenerational workforce composed of Generation X ands Generation Y. Both generations are talented and needed in the workforce. This has led to an environment where as (Bilikoph, “Conflict Management Skills.”) summarized in his study that management of Human capital becomes even more difficult due to the differences in both attitudes and perceptions towards work. This is more important if the manager is dealing in areas of the public sector as it may mean that skills and knowledge have to be sought in order to know how to cope with working with all people in the organization. The roles undertaken by public sector offices such as the Occupational Safety & Health Council serve the wider public.

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As the next generation enter the work force it is then important for managers to know how to tap into their minds of everyone in the -workforce in order to mine out all the potential that they may acquire, failure to which the organization may suffer and at the same time be able to treat the older set of employees in a manner that they may also feel comfortable working for the employer. It is important to merge core values of the new Generation Y to other generations working for the organizations.

In a study (Eisenhardt, “How Management Teams Can Have a Good Fight.”) confirmed that despite each person in the office or in the work setting having a shared vision towards realizing the goal of the organization, each and every individual possesses their own different personal values a their work and it is the responsibility of the managers to ensure that these values do not interrupt with work flow. Disruptions may come in the form of conflicts between employees or between the employee and their workers (Darashia. “Techniques of Organizational conflict resolution.”) This can bring a lack of understanding among the two sets of generations i.e. generation X and generation Y. Each of these groups has unique distinctiveness.

Background of the Topic

Discipline, management, behavior and misbehavior description with a word picture is always a challenge because of the closeness and relation that they share in a classroom context. To shade more light on this fact, in a classroom situation, when a mathematics teacher enters the classroom, the students remove relevant materials for the beginning of the lesson, this shows classroom management. Students who quickly remove their books for the lesson and pay attention are showing the aspects of good behavior. The students who wonder around with other issues and fail to concentrate to the lesson are misbehaving and they require strict discipline for them to adhere to the rules of classroom management. This short description shows an extrinsic similarities and difference of these ideas.

There is a distinct difference between management and discipline. Management in a class context defines the ways in which the activities in a classroom should be carried out. On the other hand discipline means the way in which a teacher will ensure that the student behaves in a required manner. Management is also different from discipline in some context as explained. One can manage a team and not discipline the team; one can manage a classroom and not discipline the classroom. In essence, management aims at setting required procedures and rules that are to be used in a classroom.

On the other hand, these two terms have a distinct similarity; they both involve use of procedure and rules that refrain from what is perceived wrong. Classroom management will involve the management of the entire classroom as a whole while discipline points to the management of the individual student’s character or behavior. In both cases, there is use of policies and procedures in accomplishing the task.

As the next generation enter the work force it is then important for managers to know how to tap into their minds of everyone in the -workforce in order to mine out all the potential that they may acquire, failure to which the organization may suffer and at the same time be able to treat the older set of employees in a manner that they may also feel comfortable working for the employer. It is important to merge core values of the new Generation Y to other generations working for the organizations.

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Issues

The problem identified in the council among staff was there was lack of motivational drive among employees categorized under generation X. This lack of motivation was not limited to a certain gender but applied across all persons who were in this category. In his research (Killman, “Conflict Resolution-Resolving conflict rationally and effectively.”) summarized that it is quite evident that persons in Gen. X do not follow the notion that “hard work results in good dividends.” Despite the council’s initiative in trying to promote motivation among all employees, most of the people in this category have resigned to the fact that they have reached the peak of their careers and are not ready to sacrifice more in terms of more studies or acquiring more skills. The introduction of a multigenerational workforce has hence made them resign to the fact that there are younger colleagues who will work harder. One cause for this behavior is the fact that most employees belonging to this generation witnessed their parents or relatives being laid off. This trauma has not escaped them yet and has made them pessimistic about being loyal to an organization. The lack of teamwork displayed by Gen. X is linked to their sense of work-life balance that they take so strongly that they are not willing to extend some time in the office. They are seeking to maintain control over other facets of their lives. The difference between Generation X and Generation Y in the Council was not identified to age but the underlying reasons for working hard in the first place.

Debate has been ripe as to whether this behavior within the multigenerational workforce in the council is as a result of the aging of the employees or the historical events and perceptions being held by employees within the council. One question that remains are what will happen when the Generation Y have worked for about the same number of years i.e. over six years in the council, will they display the same habits as we are witnessing from Generation X? Such questions are being asked by managers within the council with the knowledge that very soon some of the Individuals classified as Gen X will be retiring. It was also noted that employees classified under Gen. Y are eager to prove to themselves and the world that they are capable of achieving set goals and objectives and their willingness to work with each other is attributed to their upbringing where technology played a part in bringing people together. As the older generation focus on other parts of their lives the younger generation are more interested in furthering their career and this causes a huge generational gap in the office that can lead to conflicts both within and without the office. The key for the council is to try and attract and maintain a multigenerational approach towards hiring employees. This is because it is forecasted that there will be a lack of employees as the number of people under generation X retiring and not enough Gen Y’s replenishing the company. We have to first identify the persons being labeled as generation X and generation Y.

Conflict Management

In order for the people under Generation X to stay and be productive to the company, there needs to be a positive psychological contract that binds the employer their employee. We have realized that in the council, Individuals in the Gen Y are exhibiting what is termed as a change from an institutional career to one of a protean career. In this we mean that the younger generation in the council is set on building and enhancing their skill set that they can use to guarantee further employability in case an opportunity presents itself. This is a paradigm shift from organizational career where majority of Generation X belong to. An Organizational career is bent on provision of prospects to employees in order grow and develop in their professions. Hence a balance has to be met in order to come to a balance as also Gen Y have a set of demands that come with having a protean career. An organization must be ready to cater for both generations as the younger generation will claim a higher salary from the employer, more flexible working hours and better leverage in terms of financial instruments. These instruments can come in the form of owning stocks in the company (Millis, “Effective Group Management.”). It is through the assistance of human resource office and research conducted, it was discovered that for employees who are have just joined the council, were more dedicated towards career development, those in the mid level time of their career were more dedicated towards securing their jobs and those in the last stage must address what can motivate all the genre of employees.

Solution

Motivation can be applied on various characteristics in order to ensure that productivity is gained from the council’s human capital. The company can focus on each and every individual and coming up with a custom package as to how to address issues that may motivate the staff. However this approach is tiresome and will be seen to be biased as two people with the same qualifications and responsibilities nearing the retirement were more bent towards securing their financial futures and that of their families. In order for us to come up with a proper solution, we cannot be paid different salaries. We may also like to acknowledge that characteristics of employees change as they become more involved in the workplace but we cannot rely on this as a focus for motivating the employee. Another variable that can be used in the motivation that will lead to retention of employees within the council is if we consider boosting the characteristics of the job. This will include the management coming up with creative measures to enhance the set of works that make up the job. Management can first establish the performance of the individual and the degree of challenge in the job being undertaken by the employee. The job could be very repetitive and this can dampen the morale of the individuals.

In his research concluded that there exists a problem in public institutions as there are jobs that performance can be measured and targets set and there other jobs where we cannot fully evaluate the output of the employee. In her book she states that another variable that can be checked in order to motivate employees is to check on the environment that the employee is working under. An employee’s environment comprises of immediate task, colleagues and Supervisor/manager. By altering one or all of these components then any employee in the workplace is bound to get motivated. The council can introduce rewards to staff for undertaking innovative projects and also the provision of suitable working climate where communication between staff and management is promoted.

Case Study

The Occupational Safety & Health Council is a statutory body established and mandated to promotion of safety and health of both blue collar and white collar employees all across Hong Kong. It serves the public but in itself is not a government run institution. The remuneration packages for the council are close to that of the government and salary increment also follows increment in the civil service. Promotion however is based on a hierarchal system whereby for one to be promoted to the next level, he/she should wait for the employees who came before him/her5 to be promoted first. This not only kills the morale of the employees but breeds in a culture of laziness and mediocrity among junior staff. The bureaucratic culture found in the government system has been rooted in the organization and this has led to conflicts within the organization. Promotion of younger members of staff can onluy happen after senior members have retired, resigned or has died while still holding their positions. This breeds in lack of motivation and this is manifested by the quality of serve delivered to the public.

Current Situation: At the moment there are presently 60 full time employees comprising of 20 frontline staff who are categorized under generation X and Generation Y. The characteristics of Generation X are most of them have families or are planning to do so in the near future, career development has been elusive for them, they have already achieved the maximum pay incentives they can as per their position within the organization as they have worked for the organization for more than 6 years. Another aspect that stands out is that they have no desire to enrich their education as they are already satisfied with the positions that they hold. Such people are not willing to work extra or beyond their responsibilities as they are bent on maintaining their status quo.

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Generation Y: This group comprises of recently employed individuals. When compared to generation X, they are inspired to work more hours and sometimes with no incentive. They are able to perform effectively and much more productively as work is done much faster. People of this generation are better at assisting others as they have a sense of teamwork within them. Further education for people within this generation is a requisite as they view the world becoming more and more competitive.

Conclusion

In order for productivity to be boosted in the workplace there is need for us to establish and come up with better ways of treating our employees as well as treating managers in return. The presence of a multigenerational workforce should be used to strengthen and motivate everyone to act and be innovative towards the need of the organization. The psychological contract between the employee and his/ her employer should reflect a good understanding of the relations that is enjoyed. Management should face the fact that in the future there will be lack of staff and hence they will need to retain the persons belonging to Generation X. This will require the organization to find ways and means to make them become more interested through promoting more pay incentives.

Works Cited

  1. Bilikoph, Gregorio. Conflict Management Skills. 2007.
  2. Darashia, Mally. Techniques of Organizational conflict resolution. web4health.info. 2009.
  3. Eisenhardt, How MANAGEMENT TEAMS CAN HAVE A GOOD FIGHT. 2008.
  4. Killman, George. Conflict Resolution-Resolving conflict rationally and effectively. 2008.
  5. McNamara, Carter. Basics of Conflict Management. 2005.
  6. Millis, Barbara. Effective Group Management.2004.
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